Hauppauge WinTV NOVA-HD-S2 TV Tuner

Being gadget freaks we have all bought into the HD-ready TV revolution but how many of us are actually watching HD television broadcasts?

Well I am, because I was foolish enough to "invest" in a Sky HD box and pay an additional £10 per month for, to be honest, hardly any HD programming at all.

Beyond a few Discovery Channel documentaries and the odd BBC or Sky One production, there is precious little HD content being broadcast even if you are paying to view that content.

Which is why the arrival of the snappily named Hauppauge WinTV Nova-HD-S2 tuner card caught us a little by surprise here at Pocket-lint.

It is being pushed on the premise that it adds HD satellite channels into the reception mix, without the need for a subscription.

Actually, it allows you to view free-to-air HD content on your PC or a linked TV set. Assuming you can find that free-to-air HD content in the first place, which currently means a few BBC programmes such as Torchwood and Robin Hood, plus some sports coverage.

There is no doubting that at £99 including VAT this sure beats any Sky HD pricing deal, but it is a lot of money to get content that just isn’t there in any volume at the moment.

It’s easy enough to set up though, assuming you already have the investment in the HD telly and a satellite dish, oh and a high powered high spec PC for good measure.

All that is required to get going is to plug the card with its built-in satellite DVB-S2 and DVB-S TV receivers into a spare PCI slot in your 3.2GHz or faster (or Core Duo) PC with its good 1GB whack of RAM, and AGP or PCI-Express graphics card with at least 128Mb memory and Windows XP SP2 or Vista (but there are no 64-bit drivers available, or planned). Then connect it to your satellite dish and hey presto, a live HD TV feed via the included CyberLink PowerCinema software.

The ability to use your PC as a video recorder for digital satellite TV is nice, and it will retain the HD quality format as well. You can record digital radio channels as well.

Verdict

A great concept, and there is no doubting the quality of the technology here.

Unfortunately, until the TV channels start pumping out more free-to-air HD programmes it’s a hard investment to justify.